FOR THE “LADIES, COULD We Love Ourselves a Little More, Please?” file: At book group recently–roomful of worldly, educated middle/late-middle aged women–we are discussing The View from Penthouse B, a witty novel about midlife sisters, one divorced, one widowed, sharing an apartment and reentry into romantic life, by the delightful writer Elinor Lipman. A question arises about the age of the main character. A few offer that she was around 50, but some others say no, they thought 40. Well, says she married late, had a long marriage, so hmmmm…. And one attendee counters, “But there were lots of references to how pretty she was…” and others chime in: right, they kept saying she was so pretty, so early 40s at the latest, right?
“Pretty: Pleasing or attractive in a graceful or delicate way.” I know lots of women well into their lives who warrant that description, in fact some who did right to the end. It’s tough enough to battle the pro-youth bias that pervades our culture’s concept of beauty. But could we as women at least stop colluding wholeheartedly with the age=ugly attitudes undermining our own self-image with each additional year? If I could, sans surgery, rewind my face to age 30, sure I’d be tempted. But cede all claims to attractiveness without “for her age” qualifiers? Never! If not for me, then for all the friends who may be wrinkled, weathered even–and still pretty, beautiful, gorgeous and glorious!